The Salvation of Jews & Armageddon from an Amillennial Perspective

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TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
For months now, I've been trying to form a theology of the salvation of the Jewish people from an amillennial perspective. I would agree with pretty much all of Beale's commentary on Revelation, so I hope that helps give perspective to where I'm coming from. However, I cannot seem to figure out exactly how the Bible conceives of Armageddon as it relates to the salvation of the Jews. On the one hand, I would agree with Beale that the final battle of Revelation 19 & 20 (which itself draws from places such as Ezekiel 38 and 39 and other places in the Old Testament that mention the gathering of nations against Jerusalem in one final eschatological battle) as symbolic for the war of the Antichrist's forces on the saints. On the other hand, there seems to be good reasons to take the New Testament as also conceiving of a physically-located battle that takes place in Jerusalem prior to or around the time of the salvation of much of the nation of Israel.

Just a couple places where I see the NT speaking of the salvation of many ethnic Jews:

“For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Matthew 23:39, cf. Luke 13:35). He had already entered Jerusalem previously (21:9). Here, Jesus prophecies that Jerusalem will one day welcome Him in again in another triumphal entry.

I do not have the time to try to defend the future mass-conversion view of Romans 11, but I spent about 2 months doing nothing but studying the different interpretations here and I would say with a large degree of confidence that this is the correct one. Therefore I would see Romans 11:26, “And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob’”, as referring to the salvation of ethnic Israelites when Christ comes from Zion to Zion. In fact, I would say that “from Zion to Zion” is exactly what Paul is trying to convey here because the original quotation in Isaiah says “The Deliverer will come to Zion”, which Paul changes to “from Zion”. The Divine Deliverer comes down from the Heavenly Zion to the Earthly Zion.

But things get tough when we come to Zechariah:

Behold, a day is coming for the Lord, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him (14:1-5).

The reason I say this is because the canon would seem to interpret this in 2 different ways at the same time. On the one hand, “I will gather the nations against Jerusalem to battle” is interpreted in the end by Revelation 20 (drawing off Ezekiel 38-39) as a war by the forces of the Antichrist against the saints who are the “beloved city”. This would seem to indicate a worldwide context to the “battle of Armageddon”, which Revelation sees as worldwide persecution of the Church.

On the other hand, the canon would also seem to interpret this as a specific literal event that would involve Jesus returning to the city of Jerusalem as it is destroyed, and once he does so, the Jews are converted. This speaks of the “Day of the Lord”, and in context seems to speak of the final eschatological “Day of the Lord”. We know Jesus will return literally and physically, as the text says, “all the holy ones with him”, when He comes again with us. Acts 1:11 states that after Jesus ascended, two angels said,

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

The fact that Jesus ascended from the Mount of Olives and the fact that Zechariah says that the Lord’s “feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem”, would seem to indicate that when Jesus returns to the Earth, He will return to the mount of Olives (again, “from Zion, to Zion”), which would seem to indicate that the mount of Olives will in fact be literally split in half in the same way that the Red Sea was split in half, creating a “final Exodus”. Since the Lord returned with His saints, this means that the ones escaping through the valley created by the splitting must be the Jews who come to salvation only after His return, when “The Deliverer will come from Zion” and banishes “ungodliness from Jacob”. I understand that many wouldn't take this literally, but it's inescapable that when Christ literally returns to the Earth, which this passage speaks of, He will have to land at a literal and specific location. It does not seem to me to be merely a coincidence to me that Acts 1:11 seems to connect to Zechariah 14; so I would not consider this to be "selective literalism" anymore than I would consider Zechariah 12:10 to be "selective literalism" when applied to Christ literally being pierced by a Roman soldier, which we know to be true through the further progress of the Biblical canon.

So the way I see this is that the Bible seems to interpret the “final battle” in 2 different ways: in one sense it’s a war against the saints by the beast and his satanic forces, as Revelation seems to clearly interpret it in 19 & 20, but other parts of the Bible seem to conceive of it as a literal physically-located battle that takes place in Jerusalem prior to Christ’s physical return to Jerusalem, after which many Jews will be saved.

I'd appreciate any thoughts here and I'm curious if anyone else would agree with my general assessment here. I don't really know how to work everything out because it would seem to me to be much cleaner if the Bible interpreted the "final battle" only in the sense of the persecution of the Church, but it does indeed to me seem to suggest a literal surrounding of the city of Jerusalem prior to Jesus' return to the actual mount of Olives as well. Perhaps some sort of "type" and "antitype" distinction would work here, where the Bible predicts both the persecution of the Church as well as an actual battle prior to Christ's return in Jerusalem? Would appreciate any help.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
I hesitate to answer, because you always want to kick back pretty hard, but here goes.
In my understanding, any eschatological references to Jerusalem, Jacob, Zion, or several other words used to describe God's people, are to be applied to the church. Anything future (from our point in time), has not the tiniest thing to do with Israel as an ethnic group, except that they are part of "every nation, kindred, tribe, and tongue;" all of it focuses and is about the church.
This doesn't mean that there aren't difficult passages to sort out, but it gives a framework to understand whom is the subject of these unclear matters.
It is the church. The Redeemed of God. Zion. The New Jerusalem. It is us. There is no other group in God's mind and heart.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
.Anything future (from our point in time), has not the tiniest thing to do with Israel as an ethnic group, except that they are part of "every nation, kindred, tribe, and tongue;" all of it focuses and is about the church.
This doesn't mean that there aren't difficult passages to sort out, but it gives a framework to understand whom is the subject of these unclear matters.
It is the church. The Redeemed of God. Zion. The New Jerusalem. It is us. There is no other group in God's mind and heart.

What about Romans 11?

Please understand that I am not even hinting that there are two peoples of God. I believe in, and traditionally many renowned theologians predict, the conversion of national Israel.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
From my amillennial perspective I've wrestled over Romans 11 too, and went phrase by phrase through John Murray's commentary and had to conclude the passage teaches there will be a future in- gathering of ethnic Jews; but I am still baffled how this fits into God's people no longer being limited to a single nation. As far as a physical significance to Jerusalem, I don't believe scripture gives any one place prominence over any other now that the gospel is extended to the ends of the earth. Jerusalem, Zion, etc. is the church gathered with Christ in the world to come.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
As far as a physical significance to Jerusalem, I don't believe scripture gives any one place prominence over any other now that the gospel is extended to the ends of the earth. Jerusalem, Zion, etc. is the church gathered with Christ in the world to come.

Historically the debate was often, "How will we know when there is a major conversion of the Jews?" I think the answer came in 1948. How do we know if a nation is a Muslim nation? I think the only country that claims to be a Christian nation is Zambia. When the state of Israel proclaims its allegiance to Christ the King, we will know.

This may only be my idea, but it makes sense to me.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
There is a difference between the Jews getting saved in the end and the proposition that God has a specific geographical plan for ethnic Israel. Don't collapse the two.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Brandon @TryingToLearn,

Have you seen Richard Phillips', Zechariah (Reformed Expository Commentary)? It's the best I've seen so far on Zechariah 14.

A thing always to keep in mind when considering the Jews – and the nation of Israel – today: The final metings of the Deuteronomic curses were the destruction of the Jerusalem temple and accompanying slaughter of a great multitude of us Jews in AD 70 and the AD 135 spewing of the people entirely out of the land and scattering us into the nations of the world (though I have written more on these curses in A Poet Arises In Israel). The covenant with Israel was annulled, and as a geopolitical nation and people there is no longer a ‘covenant’ entity called Israel. The present State of Israel is not the covenant nation, which should be obvious to those who behold it.

That said, who really understands what the reconstituting of national Israel signifies in God's plan? Romans 11 gives no clear answer, as the different Reformed opinions testify. A great number of ethnic Jews have been converted to their Messiah during the NT church age, and have been incorporated into the multinational and true Israel of God. Will there also be a large ingathering of Jews at the end of time? One can surely hope so, though I see no distinct promise it will be so. I do labor to that end, as I can.

What is God then doing bringing us back to the ancient land? I see two possibilities: first, giving us a place as a people again, not a Biblical people for the various Orthodox groups and most others there are averse to the faith of Messiah; and second, to a threshing floor, where the wheat will be separated from the chaff, in a final winnowing before a horrific judgment. There are many Messianic groups in Israel laboring in Gospel proclamation.

In these days – which appear to me nearing the end (years, decades, I cannot tell) – as the nations of the world, and their peoples, increasingly go mad, the wars and pestilences that shall be loosed we can't foresee. But there are nuclear, biological, and chemical weapon trigger-fingers itching to pull. The State of Israel is a foremost target for a number of these nations, as is the United States. As I noted in another thread, many of us Christians are oblivious to these times we are in.

As for Acts 1:11,12, and Zech 14:3,4 signifying that when the Lord Jesus returns to avenge and judge the blood of His globally beleaguered bride, He shall literally touch down on the Mount of Olives.... Acts 1:11 simply says He shall return "in like manner" as He arose into the heavens, which He shall, and every eye shall see that return! Zech 14:2,3, in speaking figuratively of the global assault on the church, does the symbolic genre now switch to literal in midstream? Though it could come to pass He will stop by old Jerusalem if He has His people there to rescue.
 

TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
From my amillennial perspective I've wrestled over Romans 11 too, and went phrase by phrase through John Murray's commentary and had to conclude the passage teaches there will be a future in- gathering of ethnic Jews; but I am still baffled how this fits into God's people no longer being limited to a single nation. As far as a physical significance to Jerusalem, I don't believe scripture gives any one place prominence over any other now that the gospel is extended to the ends of the earth. Jerusalem, Zion, etc. is the church gathered with Christ in the world to come.
This is exactly the problem I've been dealing with regarding Romans 11. I used to interpret everything in a similar way that Ben does:
I hesitate to answer, because you always want to kick back pretty hard, but here goes.
In my understanding, any eschatological references to Jerusalem, Jacob, Zion, or several other words used to describe God's people, are to be applied to the church. Anything future (from our point in time), has not the tiniest thing to do with Israel as an ethnic group, except that they are part of "every nation, kindred, tribe, and tongue;" all of it focuses and is about the church.
This doesn't mean that there aren't difficult passages to sort out, but it gives a framework to understand whom is the subject of these unclear matters.
It is the church. The Redeemed of God. Zion. The New Jerusalem. It is us. There is no other group in God's mind and heart.
I used to think: If the Church is the new Israel, then shouldn't we just interpret every O.T. passage about Israel as referring to the Church? It seems simple, right? But then when you come to Romans 11, Paul's argument there isn't merely that God is going to be extraordinarily merciful to a bunch of Jews (whether throughout history or a mass-group at the end of the age), but it's rather that God's faithfulness is at stake if he doesn't. Paul is arguing that previous promises given to ethnic Israel necessitate their salvation (11:28-29 seems rather strong). I could not understand this at first because I saw Israel as an already fulfilled type by the Church and therefore (so I thought) should lose any significance. But now I would suggest that this isn't necessarily so.

To try to explain what I mean here, I want to quote one user's comment on a different site that was discussing basically the same problem that I saw here (Paul's argument for the necessity of Israel's salvation in light of the fact that the Church fulfills Israel). The context here is regarding progressive covenentalism, but the problem would be relevant to all forms of covenant theology:

"To clarify my first post, I think what I am suggesting as a way forward is slightly different but very close to what you are saying. It somewhat depends on where the “mustness” lies. I think you are suggesting that the “must-needs-be” component lies in the OC promises themselves. But it seems to me that Paul would not even make a distinction between NC salvation and OC promises since OC promises are typologically fulfilled in the NC. Therefore, when Paul reflects upon his own ethnic people, he doesn’t think that God ‘owes’ them these promises merely because they are Jewish. But there is somewhat of an added dimension for Jewish people (in all the NC promises, there is sort of a direct and indirect fulfillment). Those OC promises are directly promised (true) for covenantally faithful Jews, and “indirectly” true because they are typologically included in true Israel through union with Christ. Whereas new covenant Gentiles, cannot claim a direct relationship to those OC promises outside of their union with Christ. I’m not saying that Jewish people did not need Christ to receive OC promises, the only way those promises can ultimately be applied to an ethnic Jew is through Christ (i.e. through the New Covenant) but there is an added dimension for them in that they are directly related to those OC promises in a way believing Gentiles could not claim. Thus, “how much more” should Paul’s kinsmen be saved (in a new covenant fashion). Jared, what I’m not sure about is whether this sufficiently accounts for Paul’s “must-needs-be” component?" (from https://dbts.edu/2013/12/07/kingdom-through-covenant-rom-9-11-a-problem-and-a-proposal/)

The solution that this paragraph got me thinking about is to adopt a " progressive dispensational-esque" (while I definitely don't like the term, I'm just trying to get the concept across) view of the OT prophecies about Israel in which they still hold for ethnic Israel in a sense even while being fulfilled in the Church, all while holding to amillennialism. This allows for the promises to have to be fulfilled to an end-time group of ethnic Israelites even while at the same time recognizing that the promises given to the Israelites (such as the Temple of Ezekiel & the land promises) are fulfilled typologically (in the Church as the Temple & in the New Heavens and Earth as the land to use our prior examples) in the "restored Israel" of the Church. Therefore, the promises are both to a future generation of ethnic Israelites, and also to the covenant community of the Church, which this final generation will join in order to receive these promises. This allows for a sort of "type" and "antitype" fulfillment even in the prophecies of Zechariah that predict a final battle (as it would apply both to persecution of the Church as well as to a literal battle at Jerusalem prior to ethnic Israel's conversion) & would also allow us to apply texts such as Jeremiah 31 which speaks of the New Covenant both to the new covenant community of the Church as well as to the final generation of Jews which will join this covenant community and thereby receive the promises which have already been typologically transformed. This avoids both the errors of dispensationalism which refuses to see the promises given to Israel as typologically fulfilled in the Church and creates two people's of God, thus requiring a Millennial period where ethnic/national Israel is privileged above other nations, while at the same time avoiding a theology that remains unable to explain the necessity of ethnic Israel's conversion as it operates in Paul's argument in Romans 11 (especially verses 28 & 29) because it doesn't see the O.T. prophecies as having any significance towards a future generation of ethnic Jews.

In fact, if you look at some of the older writers, for example, John Gill's commentary on Zechariah which I consulted before I wrote this, they saw these prophecies as having significance both for the Church and for a future generation of ethnic Jews (Spurgeon had the same idea with Jeremiah 31, and I believe Bunyan and Owen had similar ideas).
 
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jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Thank you for your nuanced response. It would take a while to recapture my thought processes beyond the "not everything is equally clear" label I had attached to Romans 11. Your reply suggests the exegetical challenges might be best supplemented by covenant theology. If I were to reinvestigate this I'd like to see if it is considered in the series on Biblical Theology edited by Don Carson. I really appreciated the one full volume I read (recommended here on PB) and several excerpts.
 

TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
Hello Brandon @TryingToLearn,

Have you seen Richard Phillips', Zechariah (Reformed Expository Commentary)? It's the best I've seen so far on Zechariah 14.

A thing always to keep in mind when considering the Jews – and the nation of Israel – today: The final metings of the Deuteronomic curses were the destruction of the Jerusalem temple and accompanying slaughter of a great multitude of us Jews in AD 70 and the AD 135 spewing of the people entirely out of the land and scattering us into the nations of the world (though I have written more on these curses in A Poet Arises In Israel). The covenant with Israel was annulled, and as a geopolitical nation and people there is no longer a ‘covenant’ entity called Israel. The present State of Israel is not the covenant nation, which should be obvious to those who behold it.

That said, who really understands what the reconstituting of national Israel signifies in God's plan? Romans 11 gives no clear answer, as the different Reformed opinions testify. A great number of ethnic Jews have been converted to their Messiah during the NT church age, and have been incorporated into the multinational and true Israel of God. Will there also be a large ingathering of Jews at the end of time? One can surely hope so, though I see no distinct promise it will be so. I do labor to that end, as I can.

What is God then doing bringing us back to the ancient land? I see two possibilities: first, giving us a place as a people again, not a Biblical people for the various Orthodox groups and most others there are averse to the faith of Messiah; and second, to a threshing floor, where the wheat will be separated from the chaff, in a final winnowing before a horrific judgment. There are many Messianic groups in Israel laboring in Gospel proclamation.

In these days – which appear to me nearing the end (years, decades, I cannot tell) – as the nations of the world, and their peoples, increasingly go mad, the wars and pestilences that shall be loosed we can't foresee. But there are nuclear, biological, and chemical weapon trigger-fingers itching to pull. The State of Israel is a foremost target for a number of these nations, as is the United States. As I noted in another thread, many of us Christians are oblivious to these times we are in.

As for Acts 1:11,12, and Zech 14:3,4 signifying that when the Lord Jesus returns to avenge and judge the blood of His globally beleaguered bride, He shall literally touch down on the Mount of Olives.... Acts 1:11 simply says He shall return "in like manner" as He arose into the heavens, which He shall, and every eye shall see that return! Zech 14:2,3, in speaking figuratively of the global assault on the church, does the symbolic genre now switch to literal in midstream? Though it could come to pass He will stop by old Jerusalem if He has His people there to rescue.
Hi! I always appreciate your thoughts. No, I haven't read the REC commentary on Zechariah, I've been meaning to buy the entire commentary set once I have enough money because I don't often buy single commentaries.

I just want to try to defend my reading of Zechariah here, as I understand this is a point that many won't agree with me on. The way that I look at it is that Zechariah is actually prophesying about the final "Day of the Lord", it's a day when Christ will physically return to the Earth, which all Christians accept. We know that Christ will bodily return here and therefore when He does so, He has to come back to a specific location. Acts 1:11 tells us Christ will return in the same manner as He left, and while this doesn't necessarily specify the location, it does at least mean a bodily return from Heaven. However, the very next verse of Acts (Acts 1:12) mentions the mount of Olives. I would argue that Luke does this intentionally to remind his readers of Zechariah 14:4, which speaks of the Lord's feet standing on the mount of Olives. So while I understand that Zechariah is prophetic literature, I would also argue that even so, the canon gives us reason to think a sensus plenior is taking place here in the same way that Zechariah 12:10, in which the "piercing" is originally metaphoric becomes literal in Jesus' piercing by a Roman soldier in John 19:37. Beale's lecture on the "cognitive peripheral vision" of the biblical authors is helpful here, even though I don't think he'd agree with me on this. If you want to say that John had a "literal-hermeneutic" and didn't pay attention to genre, then sure, but I believe I'm only following his lead here.
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello again, Brandon,

Thanks for your response. You said, "We know that Christ will bodily return here and therefore when He does so, He has to come back to a specific location."

When He returns, the first thing He will do is call His people, both the living and the dead, up to Himself – even in the midst of the awful persecution and slaughter (1 Thess 4:15,16,17; Rev 11:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12). Those remaining on the earth are they of the mark of the beast; then the Lord turns His attention to them. When He returns, every eye shall see Him (Rev 1:7; Matt 24:30; Rev 6:14, 15, 16, 17) – the wicked with awful dread.

When it is written that "every eye shall see Him" we understand this to mean all the earth – every soul on the earth wherever located shall see Him. Do we think that the returning King will fly over the entire earth destroying His enemies piecemeal, here and there till they are all killed? With perhaps the Mount of Olives the first stop?

Will it not be more like, all the unregenerate will cry to mountains, rocks, or whatever, "hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb" (Rev 6:16) – for He will make Himself visible to all, to every enemy at the same instant. He who can hear and answer the prayers of every one of His millions of people crying to Him at the same instant – He who knows the names and number of the stars in the billions of His galaxies (Psa 147:4, 5), He can do this. My point is, need He really arrive to a "specific location" to effectively war against the entire saint-hating and murdering world? In Rev 20:9 it is written, "And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them". [emphasis mine]. He evidently made short work of them. The length of time He took I would not venture to say.

Brandon, if took me some time to rid myself of the trappings of the literal hermeneutic I used to use, especially in Zechariah 14 and in Revelation 11!
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
What about Romans 11?

Please understand that I am not even hinting that there are two peoples of God. I believe in, and traditionally many renowned theologians predict, the conversion of national Israel.
I realize that Romans 11 is the blockage here for many. But the point is to tell the Gentiles that Jews writ large are not to be despised, even though they are not exclusively the people of God anymore. Just as God always had within Israel a true Israel--a "remnant according to grace"--so He is still calling His elect out of the nation of Israel, and will continue to do so until Christ returns. My wife and our pastor are both partly Jewish, and God called them.
I wish I knew how to link to sermons, since this was recently preached on at our church, and parsed out more clearly than I can briefly do.
 

Grant Van Leuven

Puritan Board Freshman
As I very recently tried to provide some helpful resources on the question of Romans 11 and how an amilllennialist interprets it or could comply with WLC 191, I thought I’d share an edited version here in case it may be helpful (I do not share the details or many quotes but mainly the resources to go find them since I suggest reading them in full):
  1. My sermon on WLC 191 that I gave (as an ardent amillennialist) with no personal difficulty: https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=52515114224
  2. I defer to Kim Riddlebarger, The Case for Amillennialism, an amillennialist who points out in his book that amillennialism is the historic view of the church and confessions (as does Jay Adams and David Engelsma and the Missouri Synod Lutherans re: the Augsburg Confession), and his chapter 14 on Romans 11 in his book. I am satisfied with his answer and as I brief through it I see it as sufficient and helpful to inform other related questions such as in Revelation. I would also point to the hermeneutic that some texts are more clear than others and the more clear must guide the less clear/more complicated. I would highlight from this chapter on p. 181, “From an millennial perspective, the future role of Israel in Romans 11 has little effect in determining one’s view of the millennium.” I completely concur which is why I had ease preaching WLC 191 with no conflict per above. Though he goes on to analyze the questions dealing both with pre and post mills, he again writes and I concur, “Whatever role ethnic Israel will or will not play in the future has no direct bearing on the millennial question, when viewed from an amillennial perspective. Paul limits his discussion to Israel’s future, and that future is in no way tied to an earthly millennium.” (183) Page 186 is very important in how to properly interpret what Paul is addressing (and not addressing) in Romans 11. I briefed through it again and think it amply covers the gamut not only of the pre/post issues but also the different amil camps on this text (that either “side” does not take away from being able to heartily preach WLC 191). It’s pretty thorough and I think quite satisfactory.
  3. See also Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, pp. 141-146 (an Amillennialist interpreting the text). Riddlebarger I think amply corrects his nuances (though not as if there isn’t room for these differences).
  4. Here’s another resource: http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/eschatology/paulisra.html See his larger “amil” list of articles: http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/eschatology.html (some which I have suggested). Scroll down to “Messiah’s Covenant with Israel” for quite a few reviews by a-mils of Romans 11 and the topic of “All Israel Saved”.
  5. Also helpful to reference are (per my PRCA friend about to become one of their seminary profs) Herman Hoeksema, “Gods Eternal Good Pleasure” book. And Herman Bavink, 4th Volume on eschatology, which can be had cheaper in an excerpt in his book, “Last Things”.
  6. Also well worth reading is Herman Hoeksema, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. II, “The White Horse and Romans 11:26” and “Different Interpretations of ‘All Israel’” and “The Correct Interpretation of ‘All Israel’" pp. 509-513. I just read for the first time and it is exactly the same take when all things are taken into consideration as that of Riddlebarger’s book per above (but probably in a little more clear and concise form). With all shared above, these are my two most suggested resources. See also his commentary (collected sermons I believe) on Romans, chapels 71-79. I have yet to read it but it’s even more extended than his Dogmatics but also seems by briefing the last section to teach much of the same on “All Israel” and the question at hand from his Dogmatics (almost verbatim). It is called, Righteous by Faith Alone: A Devotional Commentary on Romans.
  7. In addition, Louis Berkoff’s Systematic Theology: see “General Eschatology”, pp 695-719, focusing on “The Second Coming of Christ” and “Millennial Views”. I highlight especially, “2. ’The Conversion of the Pleroma of Israel”, pp. 698-700 and especially p. 699 focusing on Rom 11:11-32. He essentially says the same thing as Riddlebarger and Hoeksema though in more summary form. I also am thankful to review as I got another quote to add to many similar ones: “Ammillennialism … has ever since [the time of Chiliasm among the second and third centuries where it already existed] been the view most widely accepted, is the only view that is either expressed or implied in the great Historical Confessions of the Church, and has always been the prevalent view in Reformed circles.” (p. 708)
  8. I also found this site I think would be most helpful: https://amillennialism.wordpress.com/articles/ See the large section on “Israel”.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Grant @Grant Van Leuven,

Thank you for the select bibliography and other resources for amil and Romans 11 material on Israel! That’s very helpful! I only had Herman Hoeksema’s older edition of Reformed Dogmatics, and the pagination is different, and also some of the section headings, but after a while I zeroed in on things you were talking of. HH is one of my favorite theologians (among whom are also his son, HCH, and Prof. David J. Engelsma – though I do not agree with everything the PRCA holds to), and HH’s view of “all Israel” in Rom 11:26 is the same as Wm. Hendriksen’s (another favorite of mine). I corresponded with Prof Engelsma on amil difficulties on occasion, and he was very helpful.

As you appear to be cognizant of some of the amil fine points I thought I would bring up two things, the first where I would differ with HH’s eschatology, and second regarding a spike I’ve hammered into the near-sheer cliff face of “modified idealist” interpretation (per Beale, D.E. Johnson, etc), even though Beale does say, “...certainly there are prophecies of the future in Revelation. The crucial yet problematic task of the interpreter is to identify through careful exegesis and against the historical background those texts which pertain respectively to past present and future.” (G.K. Beale, New International Greek Testament Commentary: Revelation, Eerdmans 1999, p 49.)

First Herman Hoeksema’s error, as I see it. This also appeared in his commentary on Revelation, Behold, He Cometh! I’ll try to keep this pithy. He says that the main players in the very end – particularly Armageddon, the final battle – are the heathen nations / Gog and Magog, and the “nominally Christian” nations of the West, notably Europe and America, from which latter grouping the Antichrist arises, and is headed by him. Although the AC has manifested in the “nominally Christian” nations – which HH terms the apostate church, and harlot Babylon – his genius and skill (inspired by the devil), plus the persuasive power of the false prophet / the beast from the land, the pagan nations of Gog and Magog will support him and give him their power – for a time – in destroying harlot Babylon, but then will turn against him, says HH. He says it in his commentary, and also – which I had not read before your mention – in Reformed Dogmatics (page 813, first edition, almost at the end of his Eschatology section, before The Millennium section).

This doesn’t make sense, as having the ten kings – whom HH identifies as the heathen nations – destroy the antichristian empire / harlot Babylon, and its leader, the AC / Beast, is not in accord with Scripture:

“And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.” (Rev 17:16,17)​

The destruction of harlot Babylon is at the direction of the beast.

But HH has the ten kings / Gog and Magog and their nations attack the Antichrist and his coalition HH calls Babylon. And this war he calls Armageddon. That’s not what Scripture says. Scripture says that Antichrist’s coalition is universal – this coalition called Gog and Magog attacks the saints globally:

“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev 20:7,8,9,10)​

That’s how it ends. It is one of the difficult sections of Rev 17: what would it look like for the beast and his ten kings to destroy whore Babylon without directly destroying themselves? I do not believe HH solves the problem. Yes, if we go back to Daniel 11:36 and into chapter 12 we can see Antichrist having some wars, but he vanquishes his opponents and unifies his control of the world. How this looks vis-à-vis the destruction of Babylon and the power of the beast I’ve written of elsewhere.

I’ll post regarding the “spike hammered into the near-sheer cliff face of ‘modified idealist’ interpretation” in a new post, as this is already getting too long.

At least Hoeksema gives it a shot – trying to solve the difficulty of the destruction of Babylon at the direction of the beast, and what it could look like – which others have not tried, to my knowledge.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
A spike hammered into a sheer cliff face may give climbers a point of leverage to bypass an otherwise impassable stretch of rock so as to reach the summit. The “spike” hermeneutically speaking would be an historical event prophesied in Revelation seen in retrospect, enabling interpreters to gain a rough perspective as to our place in the timeline of end-time events.

I have maintained it is to be distinctly found in the opening of the inter-dimensional gateway between the demonic and the human realms – the abyss of Hell and the collective human consciousness. That would be Revelation 9:1,2,3,4, where a fallen angel opened the bottomless pit for the demons to wreak havoc among all men except those who had the seal of God in their foreheads. Demons get into humankind’s spiritual / psychic sphere.

What is the correlative / equivalent seen in history? It can only be sorcery, the first mention of which in Revelation is seen in the last verse of this chapter, Rev 9:21. Sorcery, the use of drugs and potions to open this gateway, has been the practice of shamans, pagan worshippers, and occultists of various sorts for ages. But now, in God’s providential timing, sorcery – the epitome of the wickedness of man, opening his heart for the demon world to enter it – has come bringing severe judgment. We can see it eventually went into all the world from the later judgment against Babylon issued in Rev 18:23, “…for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.”

I refer to the recreational sorcery practiced by the counterculture of the 1960s and ‘70s (the Woodstock generation, along with participating parties from many fields) – in its use of LSD, mescaline, psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, marijuana, hashish, etc – becoming a world-wide phenomenon continuing and deepening this unholy union to our very day. Granted, the beats and the hippies had no idea what they were letting in – they were seduced into thinking it was a divine spiritual influx, and embraced it. But it was a Trojan Horse – from Hell. Judgment was coming upon the world, and upon that entity which would morph into Babylon’s headquarters nation.

When we see that the 5th trumpet judgment has indeed manifested in history, and on its heels the 6th is in the wings, we can discern we may well be much nearer the end of days than we had thought, and that the exponentially increasing madness we see in this land (the U.S.) bespeaks something far more dire than we considered.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
Thanks Steve, very thoughtful post.

I am reminded of this verse in Ezek 9.... “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.”

The grief and lamenting we feel in prayer and as we see what is happening may be our protection; God marks our foreheads either literally or in some way. It may be provoked by different things in different Christians. Some are particularly horrified by abortion, or Islamic evils, or kids chopping off body parts to "change into the other gender". It can be watching drug use expand exponentially, or the immorality and perversion all over. I get the most upset reading things about pedophiles in the church. Some guys here are deeply grieving and lamenting about error and heresy in the church. It all needs prayer.

It is good to be greatly burdened in prayer and even distraught for the sake of dying souls, even while we have to somehow hold to the perfect sovereignty of God at the same time. It isn't easy. Right now the Taliban thing with killing Christians is just awful. So many things are. My mind understands providence, but it is still unbearable at times to watch what is happening.
 

Grant Van Leuven

Puritan Board Freshman
Hello Grant @Grant Van Leuven,

Thank you for the select bibliography and other resources for amil and Romans 11 material on Israel! That’s very helpful! I only had Herman Hoeksema’s older edition of Reformed Dogmatics, and the pagination is different, and also some of the section headings, but after a while I zeroed in on things you were talking of. HH is one of my favorite theologians (among whom are also his son, HCH, and Prof. David J. Engelsma – though I do not agree with everything the PRCA holds to), and HH’s view of “all Israel” in Rom 11:26 is the same as Wm. Hendriksen’s (another favorite of mine). I corresponded with Prof Engelsma on amil difficulties on occasion, and he was very helpful.

As you appear to be cognizant of some of the amil fine points I thought I would bring up two things, the first where I would differ with HH’s eschatology, and second regarding a spike I’ve hammered into the near-sheer cliff face of “modified idealist” interpretation (per Beale, D.E. Johnson, etc), even though Beale does say, “...certainly there are prophecies of the future in Revelation. The crucial yet problematic task of the interpreter is to identify through careful exegesis and against the historical background those texts which pertain respectively to past present and future.” (G.K. Beale, New International Greek Testament Commentary: Revelation, Eerdmans 1999, p 49.)

First Herman Hoeksema’s error, as I see it. This also appeared in his commentary on Revelation, Behold, He Cometh! I’ll try to keep this pithy. He says that the main players in the very end – particularly Armageddon, the final battle – are the heathen nations / Gog and Magog, and the “nominally Christian” nations of the West, notably Europe and America, from which latter grouping the Antichrist arises, and is headed by him. Although the AC has manifested in the “nominally Christian” nations – which HH terms the apostate church, and harlot Babylon – his genius and skill (inspired by the devil), plus the persuasive power of the false prophet / the beast from the land, the pagan nations of Gog and Magog will support him and give him their power – for a time – in destroying harlot Babylon, but then will turn against him, says HH. He says it in his commentary, and also – which I had not read before your mention – in Reformed Dogmatics (page 813, first edition, almost at the end of his Eschatology section, before The Millennium section).

This doesn’t make sense, as having the ten kings – whom HH identifies as the heathen nations – destroy the antichristian empire / harlot Babylon, and its leader, the AC / Beast, is not in accord with Scripture:

“And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.” (Rev 17:16,17)​

The destruction of harlot Babylon is at the direction of the beast.

But HH has the ten kings / Gog and Magog and their nations attack the Antichrist and his coalition HH calls Babylon. And this war he calls Armageddon. That’s not what Scripture says. Scripture says that Antichrist’s coalition is universal – this coalition called Gog and Magog attacks the saints globally:

“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev 20:7,8,9,10)​

That’s how it ends. It is one of the difficult sections of Rev 17: what would it look like for the beast and his ten kings to destroy whore Babylon without directly destroying themselves? I do not believe HH solves the problem. Yes, if we go back to Daniel 11:36 and into chapter 12 we can see Antichrist having some wars, but he vanquishes his opponents and unifies his control of the world. How this looks vis-à-vis the destruction of Babylon and the power of the beast I’ve written of elsewhere.

I’ll post regarding the “spike hammered into the near-sheer cliff face of ‘modified idealist’ interpretation” in a new post, as this is already getting too long.

At least Hoeksema gives it a shot – trying to solve the difficulty of the destruction of Babylon at the direction of the beast, and what it could look like – which others have not tried, to my knowledge.
Hey Brother,

I'm rusty on The Revelation. My info provided above was put together with some rushed sleuthing through my library and I mentioned to the inquirer that I was rusty but hoped those resources would help on Rom. 11 and I found them satisfying. I realize you're asking a different question but I want to first say, "I'm rusty" also on this topic as well. I'd like to spend some time on this to give you a careful response but sadly am not able to at the moment. But I hope to revisit it later.

That said, if I understand your message well enough (I think I do but am not certain), I reviewed my notes for my lecture series on Wed. nights many years ago, "The Revelation", and I feel satisfied with them to be sufficient to implicitly or indirectly answer your question (you may not, but with a cursory reading of both your question and my notes I think it addresses enough the specific of your concern as I understand it especially with Rev. 17:16-17). There are a number of books (including Beale's) that I came across toward the end of my studies and hope to go back and reflect in an updated version of my lectures for maybe some kind of class booklet in house for those interested. That will take me years to get back to. But I did use Hendriksen's MTC, Hoeksema's BHC, and several other commentaries to various degrees while also listening through all lectures on Revelation by Joel Beeke, Richard Phillips, and Richard Bacon to inform and guide my own studies (I did work through the Greek on my own too first). Usually I try and bring the best of all I research into one place and not necessarily get into the details I deem less important (forest for the trees). I think I probably have less of a concern for historic details and defer to the main repeated emphases (with admitted crescendo toward the end) in the seven heptads than you do if I understand you correctly. Just to give the gist of how I think I understand your notes. I do try and be thorough and answer any objections or questions I know of or anticipate (and I don't remember engaging with your specifics at that time so keep that in mind with what I offer here). But here are my two lectures in The Revelation I think that (for me) address your question sufficiently:

https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=10313028506 ("We Shall Overcome, Rev. 17:7-18).

https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=424140390 ("Not Victims - Victors, Rev. 20:4-10).

I thought I had PDFs of each lecture there to read along with but I guess I never got to that as I have a lot of cleaning up/editing to do and more books to read and likely reflect on and reflect for a more polished presentation of some kind later on (and it's all one big document presently). But if you have time to listen through the one on Rev. 17:7-18 and I think my comments on vss. 16-17 they indirectly answer your question about that section and maybe that helps with the rest as a good place to start.

I'm pretty sure I'm not as cognizant of the fine points as much as you are as evidenced by your detailed notes (and my feeling intimidated to understand or answer adequately); but perhaps this presentation on it will help (I tend not to be as concerned about identifying specific historical details but the main movement of the visions in the context of the repeated 7 heptads and how it is to encourage each generation of the Church of the main theme and purpose of Revelation, as, per Richard Bacon: Revelation 11:15; Revelation 12:7-10; Ephesians 6:10-12; and especially the key verse of the Book, Revelation 17:14.

Hope this helps. I wanted to wait and try and study in detail your questions and get back to you with what I found but had to realize I'm not able to give proper attention to do that the way I'd want to at the moment; I hope I can do that later for my own edification but by then this thread will likely be closed. :) So sense I had a little to share from my lectures referenced above, especially Rev. 17:16-17, I hope that it proves worth your time at some point and beneficial.

Also, you mentioned David Engelsma has been helpful (I don't agree with everything with the PRCA either but we have a lot in common (more than many) with them and they have been amazing brethren to my family and our church over the years and also very recently): did he give any helpful feedback on these specific questions and if so could you share them with us (even if not fully satisfactory to you)? Sorry I can't give more help resources at the moment but hope this contributes in some way.
 

Grant Van Leuven

Puritan Board Freshman
Ethnic Israel doesn't exist anymore. Prove me wrong.
Agreed per many NT Scriptures (I especially insisted on this in my Olivet Discourse sermons); still, the context of Romans 11 still seems exegetically to have ethnicity in mind: Riddlebarger and Hoeksema both make some good exegetical comments to make me see that more clearly, while also noting that many NT Scriptures that also speak of Israel as spiritual now. But I think Riddlebarger and Hoeksema make a compelling case not to miss the context of what Paul is dealing with in chapter 11 (per above references).
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Ken,

It depends on what you mean by "ethnic Israel". To defend your statement I would quote Romans 9:6: "...For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." Though perhaps you mean a "covenant" entity called Israel. Regarding such I once wrote,

"The covenant with Israel was annulled, and as a geopolitical nation and people there is no longer a ‘covenant’ entity called Israel. The present State of Israel is not the covenant nation, which should be obvious to those who behold it."​

As for there being many ethnic Jews comprising the modern State of Israel, one can agree with that, but the Lord's definition in Rom 9:8 is the bottom line:

"That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed."​

Edit: Thinking further on it, Ken – when you say "Ethnic Israel doesn't exist anymore", that would be correct. The Jewish state of today is an imposter Israel, as the name was given by God to Jacob, and to his spiritual children.
 
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KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Edit: Thinking further on it, Ken – when you say "Ethnic Israel doesn't exist anymore", that would be correct. The Jewish state of today is an imposter Israel, as the name was given by God to Jacob, and to his spiritual children.

I agree, but I don't think that is the way most people use the word 'ethnic' when talking about Israel.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Well, the way I use ethnic is the Hebrew blood line from Abraham; the word in question is Israel – who is Israel? Who is entitled to the name by God? Two brief studies, SPIRITUAL IDENTITY THEFT: Stealing God’s Gift, and, ISRAEL HAS NOT BEEN REPLACED BY THE CHURCH :
 

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Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
What do you mean by “ethnic Israel”?
I've often asked my dispensational friends this and never received a satisfactory response.

If we simply mean anyone physically descended from the patriarchs, there are probably a great many of us here who could claim that -- many with Hispanic or North African heritage, for one, given what I know of current genealogical studies. I'm supposed to have 2-4% genetic Jewish markers myself.
 
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